Alabaster is a name applied to varieties of two distinct minerals: gypsum (a hydrous sulfate of calcium) and calcite (a carbonate of calcium). The former is the alabaster of the present day; the latter is generally the one known of the ancients.
The two kinds are readily distinguished from each other by their relative hardnesses. The gypsum kind is so soft as to be readily scratched by a finger-nail (hardness 1.5 to 2), while the calcite kind is too hard to be scratched in this way (hardness 3), though it does yield readily to a knife. Moreover, the calcite alabaster, being a carbonate, effervesces on being touched with hydrochloric acid, whereas the gypsum alabaster, when so treated, remains practically unaffected.
De Ferranti, not only commissions Ancient objects from this material, they have also worked out a way of creating partition walls in bricks creating incredible trasluscent effects.
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semi-precious and hard-stone surfaces
For the ultimate in luxury, our Semi-Precious surfaces includes tiles made of semi-precious and hard stones such as onyx, agate, serpentine, lapis lazuli, red jasper, porphyry, rose quartz, brown aventurine, carnelian, agate and many more sumptuous and rare materials. Semi-precious stones can feature in tiles as the tessera in mosaics or the decorative inlay in field tiles or perhaps as a border that contrasts with other tiles. Alternatively semi-precious material – for example our chocolate onyx – can be quarried as slab and used as a custom-made surface that is cut to size.
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